Showing posts from December, 2006

Culture: Who cares?

Prager's guest on the radio today is Arthur Brooks, a professor of public administration at Syracuse University, who has writtten the book Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism.

His research indicates the best indicator of charitable giving and other forms of compassion (for instance blood donation and volunteer hours) are:
1 - religious commitment, the more religious generally give more
2 - political perspective, those who believe it is the responsibility of government to redistribute income generally give less.

Sports: Emerald Bowl FSU vs. UCLA

FSU and UCLA are facing off in San Francisco.

At the half, UCLA leads 20-13.

FSU has been moving the ball in the opening drive of the second half.
7:09 PM PST - UCLA's defense finally slows them down but surrender a field goal. UCLA 20 FSU 16.
7:18 PM PST - ARGH!!!!!! Blocked punt for an FSU TD, FSU 23 UCLA 20.
7:31 PM PST - UCLA is able to run the ball and get the lead back! UCLA 27 FSU 23.
7:39 PM PST - FSU and UCLA both go 3 and out. FSU has good field position receiving the punt. We need DE-FENSE!!!
7:49 PM PST - Game update... after 3 quarters, UCLA 27 FSU 23. UCLA has the ball as the teams change sides for the final quarter.
8:03 PM PST - UCLA didn't do anything and now FSU is on the march. UCLA's defense needs a big play ... a sack or an INT or else FSU is going to chew up tons of clock and take the lead. C'mon DE-FENSE!!!
8:09 PM PST - FSU went for it on 4th and long and get the TD. The big wide-out was too much for the UCLA CB. FSU 30 UCLA 27. Can…

Devotional Thoughts: The Day of the Lord

Am taking a read through of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Some people believe the rapture (gathering together of believers who are alive) is the first event in a series of events in "the day of the Lord."

They cite the idea of the rapture being like "a thief in the night" event which is sudden and stealthy. I haven't read the Left Behind series of books but that the concept of a sudden rapture is the first event that sets in motion a series of events told in action adventure novels.

Suffice to say, not all theologians agree with that particular line of thought. It is an intramural debate that has b…

Devotional Thoughts: The Rapture

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is one of the passages that theologians get the rapture (gathering of living believers) from. Here are articles on the subject from a Catholic, a Protestant and an Agnostic perspective. There are many other pages on the topic, just Google it.

So what does the passage actually say?

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the…

Science: Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years

Heard an radio interview with authors Dennis T. Avery and S. Fred Singer who have written a book with the title Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years.

Their argument is that climate studies point to periodic warming trends every 1500 years. They believe the current global warming trend is one of these cycles and that human activity only contributes marginally to the increase. They theorize that the cyclical warmings might be tied to fluctuations in the heat output of the sun thus affecting Earth temperatures.

I wonder if somebody will make a documentary on their book?

As a molecular biologist, I have only followed the global warming issues occasionally.

Recipe: Attempt at antipasto

Have a departmental Christmas holiday potluck lunch today.

The single guy chef at work, eh?!

Can you see all the ingredients?

bell peppers, roasted
tomatoes, cut in half
cheeses, goat and Gruyere
olives, pitted kalamata cut in half
capers, from a Trader Joes jar
salami, slices
red onion, chopped
garlic, minced
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
black pepper

Money: How rich are you?

I'm the 55,146,441 richest person on earth!

Discover how rich you are! >>

Check it out, it is pretty thought provoking, eh?


World: Maps of War

A friend sent me a link to Maps of War.

Here is probably their most interesting map ...

Devotional Thoughts: How we ought to live - the quiet life

Let's take a look at 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

I suppose it is passages like this that have led to the "Protestant work ethic?"

One wonders if the Apostle Paul were around today, would he have some sympathy for the Libertarian political party?

Now, I don't think when Paul said we should mind our own business that we ignore what is happening around us. For instance, as we live our life, we may come across someone who has a need and at that point, Jesus' Parable of the Good Samaritan should leap to our minds and we should respond.

Also, we should note, Paul mentioned, win the respect of outsiders. Paul used the word outsiders on three other occasions. Therefore, as Christians we do live within a distinct minority community but we don't retre…

Culture: How does military service affect how we view someone?

Hugh Hewitt was discussing this question in this afternoon's radio show.

The first time I heard Hewitt bring up the topic was at the Friday night session at GodBlogCon 2006 at Biola.

From my perspective, I honor those who have served and do serve now.

If I have in front of me two fairly evenly matched candidates and one has military service and one doesn't, I would most likely support the one who has served. Of course if there is a candidate who served but I completely disagree on many policy positions, I will not vote for him/her but I would respect, honor and appreciate their service.

There is something honorable and noble for someone to choose to serve in the military.

I know there is a certain segment of the population who disdain the military. However, I suspect that group is a small minority.

When I attended the UCLA vs. USC football game recently, there were military personnel in attendance. I suppose they might have been guests of either the USC or UCLA athletic program o…

Sports: Clips from the 2006 UCLA vs. USC game

Since I was at the Rose Bowl and I didn't bring a little television set, I've been curious to see how the game looked from that point of view.

UCLA fans were in the wilderness for eight long years and so with the victory, many fans have posted little YouTube clips and have assembled highlight mini films. Most of the YouTube screen capture films are pretty low-resolution. Here is one hosted at someone's personal site that is medium-resolution and he has edited it with some dramatic music. HT: BruinsNation where there is a link to the lower resolution YouTube version.

There is also a very high resolution video that is 600 MB described at BruinsNation.

Suffice to say, I've enjoyed watching both of them several times!

Below is a picture of the item I have on my wall to help me remember the game! Does this make me a totally crazed fan?

Sports: Thanks for the memories, Eric Gagne!

I heard that Gagne signed with the Texas Rangers for one year. Its been a tough two years for him with all the surgeries and rehab. Here's hoping he will be able to have a healthy season!

Dodger Thoughts has a nice tribute to him. Excerpt:When Eric Gagne comes into pitch at Dodger Stadium, "Welcome to the Jungle" is blasted out of the inadequate single set of speakers behind center field, and an onslaught of blue and white cartoon Gagne heads overruns the scoreboard, in a hallucinatory montage not unlike the visions of Lisa Simpson after drinking tainted water on the "It's a Duff World" ride at Duff Gardens.

The entrance is ridiculous, and would be an embarrassment - if it weren't so wonderful. It captures what worked so well in the Wild Thing scenes with Charlie Sheen from the movie, Major League. Those scenes mocked the hoopla over a relief pitcher's entrance into game while marking a crowd's unmistakably sincere desperation and appreciation …

Non-profit of the month: December 2006 - Soldier's Angels

As we enter the Christmas season with family activities, gift giving, food and shopping, please remember that there are well over 100,000 men and women overseas in our military serving in some of the most dangerous places. For each solider on the field, there are loved ones back home.

For this month's non-profit of the month blog post, I present to you Soldier's Angels.

This group is providing a number of valuable ways to support our military personnel.

Here is their story straight from the web page:The Soldiers' Angels was started by a self-described "ordinary mother" of an ordinary young man turned hero, Sgt. Brandon Varn. Brandon was deployed in Iraq and has since honorably completed his mission and has returned back to his proud and loving family.

In the summer of 2003, he wrote home expressing his concern that some soldiers did not receive any mail or support from home. Being a caring and loving mother, she decided not to allow a situation like that to contin…

Sports: BCS math

The BCS numbers.

Hmmm ...

Clearly the "humans" got Florida into the BCS championship game. The computers pretty much split between Florida and Michigan. 3 computers had Michigan #2 and 3 had them #3. As for Florida, 1 computer had then #1, 2 had them #2 and 3 had them #3.

There are some discrepancies between the computer polls and human polls: the humans had USC at #7 while the computers had then at #4, the humans had Wisconsin #5/6 while the computers had them at #10 and Oklahoma was #8 in the human polls while the computers had then down at #16.

My guess is that the computers take into account strength of schedule in a more objective way than the humans do.

Believe it or not, UCLA is ranked! They are #25 in the BCS composite due to the computers saying they are #20.

For supporters of a playoff system, the numbers are difficult. Let's say you go for a 4-team playoff. Ohio State and Florida are in. But who would you put in for the #3 and #4 spots?

Michgan, LSU, USC a…

Politics: ISG FAQ by Dean Barnett

Dean Barnett has FAQ about the recently released Iraq Study Group report. Sure seems like the ISG wasn't going to be all that useful from the start.

I'd recommend you read the whole thing. However, if you want the highlights, below are the items that jumped out at tme.

I had assumed (my bad) that the ISG was a Congressionally sponsored project. Alas it was not. Excerpt:Something called the United States Institute for Peace formed the Iraq Study Group after being prodded to do so by "interested members of Congress."On how these commission often work he said this:4) If some private group formed the Commission, why was it given such wide deference by all political actors?

That’s really a puzzler. Normally you appoint one of these blue-ribbon commissions when everyone knows what the right thing to do is but no one has the political stones to step forward and do it. So both major parties form a bi-partisan commission to study the matter and reach the conclusions that ev…

World: ISG report, ISG = incomplete-silly-garbage

The ISG (Iraq study group) report was awaited with much anticipation. However, it is not going over well as people are seeing it for what it is: useless.

Excerpts:"There's only one thing worse than an over-stressed Army and Marine Corps, and that's a defeated Army and Marine Corps," said McCain, a Vietnam veteran who will become the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee when the Democrats take control of both houses of Congress in January.

"I believe this is a recipe that will lead to our defeat sooner or later in Iraq," McCain added.
Their skepticism focused mainly on two of the recommendations: a diplomatic approach to Iran and Syria, and an acceleration of the U.S. military's work to train and advise Iraqi forces.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, both said they are skeptical about another of the commission's key recommendations: that the administration approach Iran in search of help i…

Devotional Thoughts: How we ought to live - love

Am looking at 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 today.

Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.

We often think of love as a feeling. For some people of my age, the iconic film on romantic love, love as a feeling, would be West Side Story. That feeling is probably best captured in Tonight:Tonight, tonight,
Won't be just any night,
Tonight there will be no morning star.
Tonight, tonight, I'll see my love tonight.
And for us, stars will stop where they are.
The minutes seem like hours,
The hours go so slowly,
And still the sky is light . . .
Oh moon, grow bright,
And make this endless day endless night!However, when we think about love more carefully, we realize there is a lot more to love than emotion. After all, God commands us to love. One cannot command an emotion. Emotions simply are.

I …

Sports: UCLA vs. Florida State in the Emerald Bowl

I'm surprised to see that UCLA is a 5 point favorite over Florida State in the Emerald Bowl. FSU's losses with the exception of the Wake Forrest game had close scores. In total yards/game the two teams are evenly matched. FSU's defense in terms of yards/game is somewhat better than UCLA. For a full breakdown of the game, check out this analysis by ESPN.

I just hope the team can refocus on the job ahead after the emotional victory over USC.

After a shaky start in the 2005 Sun Bowl, UCLA roared back from a big deficit to win going away. However, UCLA in 2004 lost to Wyoming in the Las Vegas Bowl and in 2003 lost to Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Bowl in very lack luster performances.

Sports: What a fan is is what a fan does ...

What can I say?

The Bruins went from bums to being, maybe, just maybe, a legit rival again.

So I plunked down the deposit on season tickets for the 2007 UCLA Football season.

As a perk, they gave me two tickets to the Emerald Bowl.

Alas, I've already filed for my PTO at work and the Emerald Bowl doesn't fall on the right days. However, I instructed the athletic department to donate my two tickets to military personnel.

Devotional Thoughts: How we ought to live - sex drive

Taking a look at 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 today.

Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

How do we decide what is the right and wrong thing to do?

Those with a religious conviction will cite some source as guidance. Every religion has some text that embodies their beliefs. Obviously in the theistic religions where God is more interactive, the texts are more defined as in the case of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the non-theistic belief systems (Hinduism and Buddhism) where God is less interactive or polytheistic or pantheistic there is a larger number of texts and even the texts that are regarded more highly do not appear to rise to the same level of authority as the theistic systems.

I was listening on the radio on the Dennis Prager show and his guest was a academic studyi…

Life: Nothing But Nets Follow Up

A little while ago, I posted on the Nothing But Nets campaign to collect money to buy mosquito nets to send to Africa.

Rick Reilly wrote a follow up to the column he first wrote back in April.

The idea is simple: $10 allows a net to be bought and sent to Africa to save a life or two. These bed nets allow someone to sleep inside it at night and keeps the mosquitos that spread malaria away.

Here is an excerpt from Reilly's first article:I've never asked for anything before, right? Well, sorry, I'm asking now.

We need nets. Not hoop nets, soccer nets or lacrosse nets. Not New Jersey Nets or dot-nets or clarinets. Mosquito nets.

See, nearly 3,000 kids die every day in Africa from malaria. And according to the World Health Organization, transmission of the disease would be reduced by 60% with the use of mosquito nets and prompt treatment for the infected.

Three thousand kids! That's a 9/11 every day!
We gotta get these nets. They're coated with an insecticide and co…

Sports: UCLA 13 USC 9

Woo hoo!!!

To think a few days ago, I almost sold the tickets!

Game ball to Dwayne Walker, the UCLA defensive coordinator for coming up with the plan and motivating the defense to a bend but don't break performance. If you saw a 9 on the scoreboard, you would have assumed it was UCLA. However, today, the defense allowed only 7 points (the other 2 was from a safety) and shut out USC in the second half. There were many key 3rd down and 4th down stops by the Bruins!

Game ball to Pat Cowan for using his feet to defeat USC. Cowan gained 55 yards scrambling and with rollouts bought himself time to make some completions. He showed the heart of a fierce competitor on a 3 and 15 scramble that netted only 7 yards but he took a monster hit that the fans in our section heard and gasped. Cowan bounced right up and trotted off the field.

Game ball to Eric McNeal who got his hand on the pass to deflect it and kept after it to gain the interception. It was 3rd down and 4 when he made the inter…

Sports: D-day U$C vs. UCLA

I'm going to the game. A few days ago, my devotion to the Bruins was wavering but after talking to a Cal Bear alum friend who said she went to every home game in a 1-10 season, I knew I had to hang my head in shame for even thinking of selling my tickets and not going to the game.

Check out this item to get a feeling for the intensity of this rivalry. The blogger quotes from the LA Times, a fellow blogger and makes a few terse remarks. Okay, it is way over the top but you get the picture of what this rivalry is about.

Here is the excerpt from the LA Times:How best to put this?

You are not a real UCLA fan unless the thought of knocking USC out of the national title game today makes you giggle out loud in an empty room.

This nexus of neurons got you through a half-day of work Friday before you feigned a scratchy throat, went home, turned out the lights and tried to channel Tommy Prothro.

Like breathing, this is a basic, involuntary, primal, rivalry instinct.

Your season stinks, you&…


Another blogger I've been visiting came about because of my recent attendance of the Youth Specialties National Youth Worker's Convention. The president of the organization is Mark Oestreicher and he blogs here.

He links to this item on why one blogger is no longer going to youth group. Something for all of us who are involved with youth to think about.

Excerpt:Youth are more willing to 'dive deeper' than one might think. As Dr. Faith Kirkham-Hawkins (Emory professor of Youth and Religion, as well as YTI's Director) put it in a seminar she led at a N. GA Conference event, "Teenagers are showing up to youth group, and they're coming in droves. But, they're still dying inside." How good of a job are we doing at bringing them Life?Mark relates something Tony Campolo said recently: We do not take God into places where He doesn’t exist; we join God where God is already at work. God works in mysterious ways which we often don't see. I think …

Culture: "Lifestyle Choices"

Another blog I've been checking into lately is Mere Comments which is a word play on Mere Christianity the famous book by C.S. Lewis where Lewis provides a thoughtful, common sense and, at times, pointed explanation of Christian theology and morality.

Here is a recent post over at Mere Comments of the pointed but common sense variety about the folly of "lifestyle choices." Excerpt:Now there's a deadly phrase, a stupid one, actually, "lifestyle choices," to cover up the fact that not all the choices are equal, and some are dangerous. The family, and children, are fragile in certain ways and we can't ignore those ways without bad things happening.

So here's where "stupid" comes in. If we respect the delicate balance of eco-systems as we say we do (or should), why should that exclude human beings? ....

A farmer has a few "farmer-style choices": he can plant corn, wheat, soybeans, raise cows, pigs, or chickens. But other choices will …